We seem to have a terrible tendency to over complicate
spirituality. Knowing this, Jesus shared with us that we must become
as little children if we want to enter into the Kingdom (Matthew
18:3). This doesn’t mean we’re to be childish in immaturity, but child
like in simplicity.
In the Book of Romans, Paul was shockingly simple
when he wrote that our salvation is based not upon some esoteric
understanding or something we should be doing — but that it is a free
gift founded not upon behaving but upon believing, not upon trying,
but upon trusting, not upon doing, but upon what Jesus has already
Was this some bizarre, new doctrine Paul was preaching, some New
Age revelation, some secret understanding? No. In Romans 4, Paul said,
‘This is not something new — it’s the way it was meant to be from the
beginning,’ as he went all the way back to Abraham and used him as an
example of one who was justified by faith.
Look at Romans 4:19-21, and
note four elements of Abraham’s faith which are vital for you and me .
Abraham did not look at his limitations.
And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now
dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness
of Sarah’s womb. Romans 4:19
At the age of 86, Abraham received the promise that he and his
wife, Sarah, would have a child. Fourteen years later, at the age of
100, Abraham still believed God would honor His Word. Reproductively,
his body was dead. Physiologically, Sarah had been barren all the days
of her life. But Abraham didn’t consider the frailties of his flesh.
Instead, he counted on the faithfulness of his God.
You who are
wondering why God’s promise has not been fulfilled in your own life,
take hope and know this: There is almost invariably a time gap between
the promise of God and the performance of God. Why? So that the Lord
can prepare you for what’s coming. Therefore, don’t look at your
limitations because you will be sure to find all kinds of them.
the spies went in to check out the Promised Land, they discovered a
land which flowed with milk and honey, and brought back grapes as big
as basketballs. ‘What a fabulous land it must be!’ the people said.
‘Yes, it is. But there’s a problem,’ said all but two of the spies.
‘There are giants in the land, and in comparison to them, we are but
grasshoppers,’ (Numbers 13:33).
Do you feel as if there’s a giant
facing you — a financial, vocational, relational problem looming large
before you? Take your eyes off your limitations and put them on the
One Who is limitless, for your problems are but grasshoppers compared
to the One Who spans the universe between His little finger and His
thumb (Isaiah 48:13).
Abraham did not lower his expectations.
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was
strong in faith. Romans 4:20
‘Abram’, the original name given to Abraham, means ‘Exalted
Father’. Thus, for the first 100 years of his life, Abraham must have
had his fill of taunts like, ‘Hey, Exalted Father, how many kids do
But it got worse when, at 100 years of age, the Lord told
Abram he was to change his name. Abram must have initially breathed a
huge sigh of relief until he learned his new name was Abraham, or,
‘Father of Many Nations’. Yet he didn’t stagger. He didn’t say, ‘I
refuse to go by that name. Call me Father Wannabe.’ No, he said, ‘Call
me Father of Many Nations. It’s going to happen.’
Abraham gave God adulation.
. . . giving glory to God. Romans 4:20
Here’s a real key to faith: I find that faith comes and fear flees
when I give God glory. I can be struggling when I come into the
Sanctuary, or when I head up to the mountaintop. But when I start
worshipping, my faith begins to grow. That is why worship is so
important. Not only does it bless the Father — it feeds our faith.
When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, mourners met him outside, saying,
‘Don’t bother going in. His daughter is dead.’ ‘She’s not dead,’ Jesus
said. ‘She's sleeping,’ — a reply which caused the mourners to ‘laugh
Him to scorn’, (Luke 8:53). What did Jesus do? Luke 8:54 records that
before He healed Jairus’ daughter, He dismissed the mockers.
I love this story because it helps me understand a very real
principle with regard to faith. You see, whenever the Lord gives you a
promise in the Word, there will be those who laugh, saying, ‘You can’t
claim that promise. You don’t understand it contextually. You don’t
have the proper background linguistically. You just don’t get it
theologically.’ And what are you to do at that point? Do what Jesus
did. Get rid of the mockers. How? Do what Abraham did. Start exalting,
extolling, and praising the Lord — and the mockers will leave.
Abraham handed God the entire situation.
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able
also to perform. Romans 4:21
Abraham knew that if God promised, it was up to Him to perform. So
often I try to figure out how He’s going to do it. ‘OK, God, how is it
going to happen?’ I ask. Not Abraham. He was fully persuaded that what
God had promised, He would perform.
‘Good for Abraham,’ you say. ‘I’m
glad Paul used him as an illustration of faith, and that we sing songs
in Sunday School about his faith. But I’m not Abraham. I falter
frequently, stagger easily, and fail constantly.’ Wait a minute.
Abraham failed too.
When God gave him the promise initially that he
would have a son, Sarah’s response was ‘You’ve got to be kidding, Abe.
I’m 76 — and barren on top of that! God must have meant for you to
have relations with my handmaiden, Hagar, and call the child from that
union ours.’ Abraham agreed — and the Jews in the Middle East are
paying the price of his faltering faith to this day.
Why, then, did
Paul commend Abraham’s faith? Check this out, Bible students: Although
the Old Testament tells it like it is, including flaws and failures,
tells it like it is, the New Testament never once mentions any
shortcoming of any Old Testament saint. Why? Because the blood of the
Son causes the heart of the Father to forget the sins of the saints.
Therefore, instead of concentrating on Abraham’s failures, Paul
commends Abraham’s faith. ‘But Abraham’s faith, flawed as it may have
been, is monumental compared to mine,’ you say. Wait a minute. On the
basis of Romans 4:23 25, if you even believe God raised Jesus from the
dead, your faith is every bit as incredible as was Abraham’s.
the world doesn’t believe in the Resurrection. When Paul addressed the
thinkers and scholars on Mars Hill, they listened to him — until he
brought up the Resurrection, at which point they laughed at him (Acts
17:32). Now, if you’re a believer, your faith and salvation are based
upon the Resurrection. You didn’t see it visually. You haven’t touched
Jesus physically. You haven’t heard His voice audibly — but somehow
you believe. And, even though our culture mocks it, science disputes
it, people doubt it — because God has graced you with faith to believe
what the world doesn’t understand — anything else you’re struggling
with is a piece of cake.
It is nothing to believe in victory over
whatever giant is before you, whatever pressure is upon you compared
to believing in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
was the biggest elephant in captivity. So powerful was he that he
could uproot a full grown tree. Yet when Jumbo traveled with P.T.
Barnum’s circus, he was secured with nothing more than a twelve inch
stake. Why? Because when he was first captured as a baby, he was
unable to pull free from the twelve inch stake which held him captive.
Thus, he grew up captive. Thus, he grew up accepting the fact that he
would never be able to remove the stake. He bought into the lie that
he didn’t have the strength to pull out the stake.
So too with me and
you. Nothing remaining will demand more faith than believing that
Jesus is God, that He died for our sins, that He rose again. We’re
Jumbo. We’ve already accomplished the incredible. Yet we remain tied
to twelve inch stakes when we’ve already shown we are capable of
uprooting trees. ‘How will I make this payment?’ ‘When will I get my
house?’ ‘What will I do if I lose my job?’ are all twelve inch stakes
compared to the redwood of unbelief which we’ve already uprooted.
Suppose you ran the Boston Marathon, and a week later, I asked you to
jog out to the mailbox a couple hundred yards away to get the mail,
and you said, ‘I can’t. I’d like to — but I can’t. I’m so out of
shape. I just can’t run that far.’ I would say, ‘You ran the Boston
Marathon — but you can’t jog to the mailbox? What’s wrong with you?’
And I think that’s what the Lord lovingly says to us. ‘What’s wrong
with you? You have exercised faith like Abraham, the father of all
faith. You’ve already exercised faith of astounding proportion because
you have believed that I died for your sin and rose again. So how can
you be worried about the phone bill?’
Gang, you are men and women of
magnificent faith, following in the footsteps of Abraham. Now use the
faith which caused you to embrace the Resurrection to also believe God
is going to take care of your present situation. Give Him the glory.
Leave it in His hands. Be free. You’re Jumbo. Go get ‘em!